Two days ago, we observed World Kindness Day. Here are a few thoughts about Kindness and how it can profoundly impact our lives. Especially now.
World Kindness Day was introduced in 1998 by a coalition of non-profit organizations and is celebrated internationally on November 13th. Its objective is to highlight good deeds in the community, focusing on the positive power of Kindness. Kindness is a fundamental aspect of the human condition. It bridges all divides–– race, religion, politics, gender and zip codes. Kindness is contagious; even the smallest acts can ripple and create a far-reaching wave of change.
Kindness does not come naturally to everyone and some of us need an occasional reminder. This must be why Ellen Degeneres always ends her show with the mantra: “be kind to each other.” Once we are kind to each other, as Ellen urges, we realize how simple it is. Without going very far out of our way, we can do something nice for someone else and have a huge impact on another’s life…. sometimes without even realizing it. And, that act of kindness benefits both the recipient and the giver.
Many people go about their day with a smile plastered on their face, while underneath that seemingly happy exterior, they may actually be hurting, grieving, anxious or depressed. The smallest act of kindness from a stranger can change the entire trajectory of that person’s day or even life. But most of us are too caught up in our own daily grind to consider how a random stranger is feeling.
I suggest practicing Kindness and making it a habit. Being kind is actually quite easy and, once we do it regularly, it becomes our natural way of being. Then, those we have been kind to are likely to “pay it forward” and, little by little, Kindness will becomes the rule rather than the exception.
According to WMBGKind, a kindness initiative in Williamsburg, VA, there are five key components of kindness:
1. No act is too small— Whether it is holding a door for someone, smiling as you pass someone on the street or just being polite, acts of kindness come in all sizes.
2. There is no price on kindness— Kindness doesn’t have to cost money. Writing a note of encouragement or taking time to listen to someone can go such a long way.
3. Kindness is inclusive—Kindness transcends demographics, race, religion and socioeconomic status. It is always an equal opportunity gift.
4. Kindness makes us better, together— Being kind to others creates a stronger sense of community, changing the way we see ourselves, our neighbors, and helps focus us more on our similarities than our differences.
5. Kindness literally changes people— Giving makes us more empathetic and generous in our assumptions about others, thus enabling us to become more selfless and humble.
Yesterday, I comforted a tearful little girl who had fallen off her scooter. My golden retriever, Casper– who happens to be a pet therapy dog– and I approached the girl and asked if she wanted to pet Casper. Casper sat calmly while the girl stroked his fur… she hesitatingly smiled a little, then broke out into a full grin as she exclaimed: “he’s so soft and cuddly!” This small kindness undoubtedly made this young stranger’s day better and it also filled me with joy. I felt grateful that I was able to help someone else. (Casper was pretty happy too.) This is the power of kindness. I’ll close with one of my favorite quotes: